Raw Land.
Robert Pursell represents more buyers and sellers of raw land than any other real estate agent in the entire Napa Valley.

Buying and selling raw land is completely different than residential real estate.

Raw land is a market segment characterized by a small number of buyers chasing a limited number of desirable options. It's not that supply and demand are out of balance. But information is limited and its easy to make a mistake. Agent experience therefore becomes a substitute for market feedback.

For buyers, Robert is laser focused on helping his clients make thes best possible purchase decision regardless of budget to achieve their dream of building a home in the Napa Valley.

For sellers, Robert provides a comprehensive marketing plan tailored to the custom requirements of the raw land market to help achieve the client's desired outcome.

Robert lives on seven acres in the East Napa / Coombsville area so he can provide invaluable insight into the world of country property living.
Land Aesthetics.
When you buy a house, the quality of the site - privacy, views, proximity to town, usability, etc. - is an important variable. When you're buying a piece of raw land upon which to build a house these variables are nearly 100% of the decision.

Specializing in raw land means walking a lot of building sites. And by walking a lot of parcels over the years, Robert has assembled a deep intuitive understanding of the value of raw land. For buyers and sellers Robert can instantly transalte this market knowledge into a pricing recommendation and marketing strategy for a particular parcel.

Being able to accurately evaluate the quality of a piece of land is critical as raw land is a relatively small market segment. With a small number of buyers and a small number of sellers, each side needs agent knowledge to help facilitate a transaction. The alternative is bad decisions on both sides of the buy / sell process.
Land Infrastructure.
Country property generally has private services - well for water, septic for waste disposal, propane for gas, etc. Each service has its own considerations. These are complex topics - the information below is a basic primer.

Water: Water is generally plentiful in the Napa Valley although there are some areas known for low output. Most building sites have a water well installed as being able to prove water availability is critcal. During escrow the well will be tested for quantity and quality. And then during construction the water system will be designed and installed including any necessary filtration. The cost of a water system is generally fixed as it does not vary by size or quality of house.

Septic: Septic is a complex subject. But at a high level septic capacity is a function of the quality and quantity of soil available to support a septic system. During escrow a site evaluation will determine the septic capacity of the property. And then during construction the septic system will be designed and installed. The cost of a septic system is also generally fixed with most sites now requiring an engineered septic system. The cost varies slightly by bedroom count.

Utilities: Electricity is a generally delivered by PGE. The cost to install power can vary exponentially depending on parcel size. A small one acre parcel may have a cost in the $10,000 to $30,000 range; a large acreage parcel may have installation costs in the $100,000 to $250,000 range. Once power is on site there is a cost to install a power panel which varies by house size with larger homes needing more power. Photovoltaic power is a suitable alternative for smaller homes.

Road / Driveway: Driveway / road development is the most variable cost and also depends on parcel size. A small / flat one acre parcel may need nothing more than a driveway whereas a large acreage hillside parcel may need a road that costs in excess of $1.0 million. Road costs can make some properties economically unviable to be built upon. When looking at large acreage parcels, properties that have existing grandfathered roads can be a highly desirable option.

Site Development: Each parcel will also have site development costs - the cost to grade and prepare a building site. These costs tend to vary depending on the topography of the lot. Hillside lots need to be graded to develop a flat location for the house, parking, and fire truck turnaround. Sites on the valley floor are not immune from site development costs as many are in flood plains and need to have dirt brought into develop elevated building sites.
Ecosystem of Support.
Robert has an entire ecosystem of architects, contractors, civil engineers, land use consultants, viticulturists, and other experts to help ensure a successful raw land transaction. You will always have an expert by your side.

In escrow, Robert recommends you interview and hire the architect. This will ensure there is a point person moving forward who can coordinate the building process on your behalf. Robert has a keen eye for architecture and design. Based on your preferences he can recommend a number of architects across all price points. This is the fun part of the process!
Sample Budgets.
While every client / site / build is unique, sample budgets give you a basic understanding of the various costs involved with building a house in the Napa Valley. Note each site is assumed to be "build ready" requiring only the fixed infrastructure costs typically incurred concurrent with house construction. To the degree a site is not build ready, those costs need to come off the site acquisition cost and/or added to the budget.

$3.0 Million Budget

Land
Country "Build Ready" Site ($1,000,000)

Fixed Infrastructure Costs
Septic ($80,000)
Water System ($50,000)
Electric System ($30,000)

Variable Costs
2,000 sq.ft. living space @ $500/foot ($1,000,000)
480 sq.ft. garage space @ $250/foot ($120,000)
Soft cost @ ~ 20% of build cost ($220,000)

Landscaping
Hardscape ($200,000)
Landscape ($200,000)
Pool ($100,000)

Total
$3,000,000

Note: This $3.0 million budget assumes a relatively small house at 2,000 sq.ft. with a healthy $500,000 outdoor budget. Some may build a slightly larger house with a lighter outdoor budget. The $500 / foot hard dollar build cost assumption is about 10% less than what the typical "low end of the high end" house would cost out at. So some value engineering is assumed to keep the budget below $3.0 million.


$5.0 Million Budget

Land
Premium Home Site - Build Ready ($1,500,000)

Fixed Infrastructure Costs
Septic ($80,000)
Water System ($50,000)
Electric System ($30,000)

Variable Costs
4,000 sq.ft. living space @ $550/foot ($2,200,000)
1,000 sq.ft. garage /patio space @ $275/foot ($275,000)
Soft cost @ ~ 20% of build cost ($495,000)

Landscaping
Hardscape ($200,000)
Landscape ($200,000)
Pool ($100,000)

Total
$5,130,000

Note: As the budget moves from $3.0 million to $5.0 million, the budget more reflects a more typical custom home in the Napa Valley: A higher quality site, 4,000 sq.ft. of living space with the full $550/foot build cost, additional budget for outdoor patios, and more soft cost dollars overall to fund better architecture / landscape design / interior design.


Estate Home Budget

Land
Estate Home Site - Build Ready ($2,500,000)

Fixed Infrastructure Costs
Septic ($100,000)
Water System ($80,000)
Electric System ($50,000)

Variable Costs
6,000 sq.ft. living space @ $675/foot ($4,050,000)
2,000 sq.ft. garage /patio space @ $337/foot ($675,000)
Soft cost @ 25% of build cost ($1,182,000)

Landscaping
Hardscape ($500,000)
Landscape ($500,000)
Pool ($300,000)

Total
$9,937,000

Note: As the budget moves from $5.0 million to $10.0 million, overall size and cost per square foot increase to reflect a higher build quality. It should be noted many high end builds come in at significantly higher than $675/foot so this budget still may be conservative when paired with a noted architect who may design an award-winning residence.


Cost Saving Measures.
There are many ways to economize in the building process:

Tear Downs: About 50% of the building sites sold aren't raw land, they are tear downs. Many of the best building sites are those already built upon. And rebuilding in roughly the same location can be cost effective as utilities are in place.

Remodel: Taking a house "to the studs" is another way to obtain a high quality site. And to the degree you like the basic exterior footprint of the house you save on foundation and framing costs. Remember in this level of remodel the entire interior layout can change and exterior elements can change. This can shave $100 to $150 / foot off your rebuild.

Fire Lots: The Napa Fire Complex of 2017 destroyed nearly 600 homes. Many are rebuilding but some are selling their lots. These lots are with some repairs and restrictions "build ready" saving the new owner a significant amount of money in infrastructure development costs. And while it may feel odd to build on a site where a house burnt down, know that many home burnt down because the homes were built prior to modern Wildland Urban Interfact (WUI) building standards and/or owners did not adhere to CALFIRE defensible space standards.

Vineyard & Winery.
With established vineyards selling from $350,000 to over $1.0 million per net vine acre planting fallow ground is a cost effective alternative. And with premium and ultra-premium vineyards rarely available planting fallow ground is often the only option to obtain high quality fruit. Robert has a deep understanding of the various American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and the ability to successfully entitle a vineyard in each area. Together with his ecosystem of experts, Robert can help you identify, research, and close escrow on your future vineyard parcel.

As with the identification of potential vineyard land, Robert can help you identify potential winery sites throughout the Napa Valley. With even small wineries costing in excess of $20 million, purchasing a tract of land that logically supports a winery is a way to obtain the dream of owning a winery with a reasonable budget.
Search Process.
It's difficult to search for land online (every photo looks like trees and/or grass). So the best start is to contact Robert at 707-299-9191 or

As with the identification of potential vineyard land, Robert can help you identify potential winery sites throughout the Napa Valley. With even small wineries costing in excess of $20 million, purchasing a tract of land that logically supports a winery is a way to obtain the dream of owning a winery with a reasonable budget.
Active Listings.
11490 Franz Valley Road, Calistoga


Two Vineyard Estate Home Sites
11490 Franz Valley Road, Calistoga

Located in the exclusive neighborhood of Knights Valley, these two legal parcels (10.0 acres and 40.748 acres per surveyor) are ready for the ultimate vineyard estate home. A permitted 34-acre foot (approx.) irrigation pond can serve as a water source for vineyard across the property. Multiple building sites on flat and elevated portions of the property. Neighbors include the Hunt Estate and the Villa Montana.

Offered at $7,900,000
(Active)

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3610 State Highway 128, Calistoga


Panoramic Knoll Top Building Site
3610 State Highway 128, Calistoga

A rare opportunity to own a private knoll top. This 31.78 acre (approx.) site has 360-degree views of the valley floor, the palisades rock formations, and surrounding vineyards.

Offered at $2,500,000
(Active)

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3600 State Highway 128, Calistoga


Panoramic View Building Site
3600 State Highway 128, Calistoga

A true luxury building site - panoramic valley floor vineyard views, private / noise free, and a location that's easily accessible and close to town. Property had a main house, second dwelling unit, and guest cottage. Napa County fire rebuild standards will provide the new owner with significant cost savings on road and septic. Trees sustained minimal fire damage and the owner has invested significant resources into cleaning up property.

Offered at $2,250,000
(Off Market - Winter)

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3582 State Highway 128, Calistoga


Vineyard View Building Site
3582 State Highway 128, Calistoga

The perfect spot to build your dream home. Located off State Highway 128, this building site is private and relatively noise free with beautiful vineyard views. Main house was 3-bedroom / 2,694 sq.ft. per Realist (up to 3,367 sq.ft. on rebuild with +25% rule). Napa County fire rebuild standards will provide the new owner with significant cost savings on road and septic. Trees sustained minimal fire damage. Vineyard potential.

Offered at $995,000
(Off Market - Winter)

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